LONDON--AstraZeneca's top brass can't wait to start rubbing shoulders with scientists at its planned corporate campus in Cambridge, U.K. So the pharma giant has opted to send an advance team of scientists ahead to get the creative juices flowing early on.
The company ($AZN) says 60 of its drug researchers are being relocated to the Cancer Research UK (CRUK) Cambridge Institute on the grounds of the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, where they can get to work with colleagues at University of Cambridge Department of Oncology, the MRC Cancer Unit and Addenbrooke's Hospital on a portfolio of clinical and preclinical assets.
When AstraZeneca chief Pascal Soriot took the wraps off the big new vision he had for the troubled pharma giant's future, the hub strategy took center stage. Like many of the rest of the top pharma companies, Soriot opted to uproot R&D from its traditional environs, in this case Alderley Park, and start concentrating forces in top research hubs. Not only is Cambridge, U.K., going to be one of a handful of global hubs for AstraZeneca, its headquarters will be moved there as well.
The move is part of Big Pharma's great externalization effort, as companies stop relying on what they can do in their own internal R&D organizations and turn more to outside investigators for inspiration and access to the most cutting edge technologies. The strategy has spurred a range of companies from Pfizer to Sanofi to Novartis and AstraZeneca to gather their forces in places like Cambridge in Massachusetts or Shanghai. And it's been tied to massive reorganizations which have eliminated tens of thousands of research jobs along the way.
There's just no evidence, though, whether any of it will actually achieve what the strategy is intended to accomplish: Develop better drugs that can earn significant revenue. That won't be evident for some years to come. And here in the U.K. the move has been greeted with everything from cheerful encouragement to a significant amount of scorn from some who quietly see little sense in relocating away from the current set of facilities.
For AstraZeneca, though, it's the principle that counts right now.
"In choosing to locate one of our three global R&D centres at the Cambridge Biomedical Campus we have made a clear statement of intent about putting science at the heart of everything we do," Mene Pangalos, the EVP of innovative medicines and early development at AstraZeneca, said in a statement. That's why this early collaboration with the CRUK Cambridge Institute is so exciting, as it represents another step in our efforts to create a permeable research infrastructure, building strong relationships with the vibrant bioscience community in the city as we work on developing the innovative medicines of the future."
- here's the release